Pet Food and Nutrition
Pet Food and Nutrition
Talking about pet food and nutrition is like opening up a can of worms. Just because the topic is difficult or has uncomfortable answers doesn’t mean we should ignore it.
On the contrary–we need to have a continual conversation–pet owner to veterinarian and vet to owner. Your pet is welcome to weigh in as well.
Veterinarians and pet owners alike have to sift through a minefield of conflicting findings, marketing ploys, and well-funded messages from corporate giants.
Where to start? What is the truth? Who do you believe?
Do Your Homework
Ask questions and read. Learn what is important to look for and what is fluff. Understand what is marketing and what is science based. Learn about the small details like ingredients to the bigger picture of your pet’s overall health. What is her blood work like, body conditioning score, her ease of digestion and elimination, even the look and feel of her coat?
When doing your homework, understand your sources. And no, this doesn’t mean we are “anti-internet.” We’ve all Googled before and will again. You simply need to determine the reputability of the information you are reading.
Talk with Your Vet
After your initial study, or even while you are learning, find a veterinarian open-minded enough to engage in a conversation with you. They should welcome your questions and be willing to discuss what you found on the internet.
They should hear your concerns and work to understand your values and what is important to you.
Veterinarians can provide science-based facts and share their understanding of companion animal nutritional needs. They can offer food recommendations and tell you what factors back their choice.
And don’t forget, they see hundreds of animals each week. They see inside and out how dogs and cats are doing on a particular brand or diet.
“A” for Effort
The effort you put into making the decision about pet food and nutrition is up to you.
Take the farm dog that was fed nothing but table scraps and the cheapest dog food and lived to be 17 with zero health problems. Conversely, consider the diligent pet owner who researched every ingredient, fed only the highest, most pure foods and her dog was plagued by chronic health issues and only lived to 7 years of age.
Both examples are real. As is every situation in between.
Ultimately, the decision is yours. Make it an informed one.
Your Personal Beliefs: Food for Thought
Covering pet food and nutrition is beyond the scope of a single blog post. In the weeks to come, we will be providing you with the basic building blocks we feel you should consider when making an informed decision about what to feed your pet.
To Get You Thinking:
- Is the source of meat or poultry important to you? Where does it come from?
- Is how the meat or poultry processed and handled a concern for you?
- Are definitions and terminology something you want to understand?
- Are you able to understand the information on your pet’s bag of food (e.g., the ingredient list, the AAFCO statement)?
- Is having USDA certified organic food important for you and your pet?
- Is having a pet food made in the USA by a company owned and headquartered in the USA important to you?
- Are you concerned about the use of GMO versus Non-GMO ingredients?
- Is price a factor?
- Does your pet have any food allergies? Other health conditions that warrant a specialty diet?
- Are you looking for grain-free or gluten-free? And do you need to be?
- Are digestibility issues or whether or not your pet likes the food important?
These are just a handful of the value-based decisions that go into selecting a pet food.
Resources to Get You Started
Pet Nutrition Alliance (formed by the major veterinary medical associations)
Tufts University has several excellent pieces:
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine: has two booklets on nutrition 101 for cats and dogs